/ Cancer (Oncology) / Brain Cancer Treatment

Brain Cancer Treatment


Brain cancer (Tumor) treatment involves the removal of a malignant (harmful) tumor from the brain. Removing a growing tumor is important, because the inside of the skull is a fixed space. If a tumor gets bigger, it takes up more space and increases the pressure inside your head. The increased pressure is what causes some of the symptoms of brain tumors. Treatment for brain tumors depends on a number of factors including the type, location and size of the tumor, as well as the patient's age and general health. Treatment protocols and schedules may vary between children and adults.
 
How it Works?
 
In cases of brain tumor, a whole cross-disciplinary team of oncology specialists, surgeons, pathology, radiology and nursing staff collaborates to come up with a comprehensive plan for treatment, and the various care options available for the best medical outcome. Eventually, the treatment you receive will depend on where your cancer is located, how far has it grown or spread (the stage), the type of cancer, how the abnormal cells look under a microscope (the grade), a patient’s general health, level of fitness and optimistic outlook. The treatment plan for brain cancer usually involves surgery, followed by radiation therapy and then chemotherapy. 
 
Surgery
 
Surgery is the removal of the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue (inadvertent) during an operation. It is usually the first choice of treatment used for brain tumor and is often the only recourse available for a low-grade brain tumor. Removing the tumor can improve neurological symptoms, yield tissue for diagnosis, help make other,supplementary brain tumor treatments more effective, and, in many instances, improve the prognosis for a person diagnosed with a brain tumor.
 
The type of surgery you need to undergo depends upon the stage of cancer you are in, and also the ‘personality’ of your cancer. This may sound odd, but eventually the decision will have to be made after weighing all the options, doing a cost-benefit analysis, and considering the quality of life post-surgery and whether you will have the means and the family support system in place to manage post-surgical rehabilitation challenges. You might have to opt for surgery to:
 
  • Remove the whole tumor 
  • Remove a big chunk of the tumor with a process called subtotal resection or de-bulking 
  • Take a biopsy to study the cells
  • Remove all or part of a growing benign tumor

Radiation therapy
 
Post brain-cancer surgery if there is any cancerous growth of the tumor left in a patient’s brain, radiation therapy can effectively destroy it. The radiation may be delivered by a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material judiciously placed in the organ next to the cancer cells (internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy).
 
  • Powerful beams of radiation are targeted towards the cancerous tumors in extremely controlled conditions. These radiations could be X-rays, gamma rays, or charged particles.
  • These radiations destroy the cancer cells by damaging their DNA (the molecules  that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next). Alternatively they also create charged particles (free radicals) within the cells that in turn damage the DNA. 
  • Once the DNA is damaged beyond repair, the cancer cells stop dividing and with the passage of time, eventually die. The dead cancer cells then get broken down and are eliminated by the body through the elementary canal. 
     
With time, radiation starts damaging cells that are in the path of its beam. Advanced technology technique ensure the precise delivery of such beams to make sure that minimal damage is caused to the normal cells surrounding the cancerous tissues.  
 
Chemotherapy
 
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy tumor cells, usually by stopping the cancer cells’ ability to grow and divide. The goal of chemotherapy can be to destroy tumor cells that persist after surgery, slow a tumor’s alarming growth, or provide symptomatic relief to the patient. Chemotherapy is typically preferred after surgery and used in combination with or after radiation therapy, particularly if the tumor has reappeared after an initial round of medical intervention. Results of chemotherapy usually vary widely from one patient to the next. 
 
Side Effects & Risks
 
Brain Cancer Treatment is generally associated with a few side effects that may develop either because of the treatment or the disease itself. They may be long-term in nature and may continue even after the treatment is closed. Some such side effects include:
 
  • Fatigue
  • Risk of infection
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Hair loss 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Diarrhea. 
  • Hearing loss
  • Kidney damage
  • Coma
  • Brain Damage
  • Brain swelling
  • Stroke
     
Some of these symptoms could in coming, while others may begin to appear in weeks, months or on rare occasions, even years of completing a breast cancer treatment protocol. They can be however addressed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle after the treatment.

Preparing for Breast Cancer Treatment
 
You will need to disclose your full medical history to your doctor before starting the breast cancer protocol. This must include any prior illnesses you may have had, any allergies to medications, any medications that you may be taking currently and any other herbs (alternate medicines) or vitamins (dietary supplements, chemical or organic) you may be taking, with or without a doctor’s prescription. In case you are on aspirin or any non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, you may be advised to stop taking those preparations a week before your treatment starts. 
 
To make sure there may appear no complications either during or after the surgery, you may be asked to undergo a few routine tests such as a chest x-ray, electrocardiogram, blood tests, urine test and maybe also, a CAT scan.

What to expect after Brain Cancer Treatment?
 
Once you are through with your Brain Cancer Treatment, you need to concentrate on regular monitoring of your condition so as to prevent a relapse or sudden recurrence of the same cancer. You may have to attend a few, follow-up sessions regularly to make sure things are going as per your expectations. During these sessions your symptoms will be reviewed and a physical examination would be conducted for any early detection of a recurrence or any new type of cancer. 
In case you are emotionally disturbed, you may be asked to see a psychiatrist or attend a support group that might help you heal quickly.
 
Results of Brain Cancer Treatment
 
All said and done, the final outcome of Brain Cancer Treatment depends on how well your body responds to the prescribed treatment and how successful are you in managing your post-operation lifestyle. The prognosis after the treatments is usually good. This includes physical therapy, counseling and more to make sure you recover as soon as possible and get back to the life that you used to live before being diagnosed with brain cancer. However, you need to give yourself a lot of time to completely adapt to the many lifestyle changes that life might bring to you post-recovery. 


 
 

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